Benefits of Khuga dam remain uncertain
By Babie Shirin
IMPHAL | Mar 12
Khuga Dam which impounds the Khuga River on south of Churachandpur town still lies in uncertainty on whether it is benefiting the people. The question raised now, is whether the dam is required for the people, as numbers of complaints have come up and many urging the state government to give benefits.
This IFP reporter visited the canals concerning Khuga dam and found that the irrigation canal is functional only up to a few kilometres downstream while the remaining parts remain dry. The proposed hydroelectricity generation from the project never materialised. As of today, not a single unit of electricity has been generated from the dam. No power house for generating electricity exists as well.
Khuga dam, which has been inaugurated in 2010 by Sonia Gandhi, started its construction in 1983 and resumed in 2002 after being at a standstill for a period of time.
Khuga dam which is also called Khuga Multipurpose Project was first considered in the year 1980, and the cost of the project was 15 crores. The project is located near Malta village in Churachandput district of Manipur, at least 10 kilometres from district headquarter. The project was to irrigate 15,000ha of land, provide 10million gallons for drinking water and have installed capacity of 7.5 MW hydropower, according to South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP).
The Advisory Committee in the Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) had clearance of 38 projects in North East for consideration of techno-economic viability of irrigation, flood control and multi-purpose proposals (TAC in short) for Northeast India, as per a report from SANDRP.
Among the 38 projects 12 projects includes 6 irrigation projects, 3 barrage projects, 3 multipurpose projects. Within these projects, three multi-purpose projects are located at Manipur. They are Khuga Multi-purpose project, Dolaithabi Barrage Project and Thoubal Multi-purpose project.
All these projects are very old and how much benefits have been acquired from them still remains uncertain. The Khuga dam on TAC meeting in 110th and 115th project witnessed cost escalations of 25.42 and 28.92 times respectively from its original cost.
In the 115th meeting of TAC 2012, the completion deadline was stated as March 2013 which implies that it would take 33 years only to complete the project. The meeting also stated that the project authorities indicated that the increase in cost was due to frequent blockades and law and order problem in the project area, as a result, project authority were unable to obtain construction materials which in turned slowed down progress of the project significantly. It may be mentioned that the Khuga project was inaugurated on 2010 in the month of November by Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The projects was visualised to solve the irrigation, drinking water and electricity problem of Churachandpur district in particular and Manipur in general since agriculture is the main livelihood option of the region. But in terms of irrigation, the plans have become unrealistic. In fact, an inspection of the main right canal showed the very sorry state of the canal.
When it comes to drinking water, people in the area when faced with water scarcity, were not sure whether the water reserved in Khuga dam would qualify as good enough for drinking.
Coming to electricity generation, the component had been scrapped totally even after the power house was reported to be completed by almost 80 percent. It was learnt that power component was planned and designed without studying its operational feasibility and the power component can be operated for only about 3 or 4 months in a year when there is excess water.
There was also a report that a Joint Action Committee on Khuga Dam visited national capital and submitted a petition to Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission demanding an expert team to investigate the execution of the project in 2014. The Joint Action Committee also demanded that the 1.5MW electricity for the people of Churachandpur and compensation and rehabilitation money to the affected villages should be cleared.
None of the above mentioned petitions submitted to planning commissioned were not mentioned on the meeting of TAC.
From the history of Khuga dam, it is clear that the promises were never fulfilled and benefits never reached the people, even after completion. The benefits from irrigation largely remained on paper. Now, the people in canal areas have stated that they will bury the canals stating that it was a waste of land and separated the villages into two sections because of the canal. “Even in rainy days, the canal stores less quantity of water. So how can these canal will store water in dry season? Khuga dam did not and does not provide water since it had been completed. It is better to bury these canals and use them in other ways,” said a one villager.
The voice of the people concerning the Khuga Project’s canals is strong, it requires attention as it violates the rights of the people with false promises.
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